By Professor Matodzi
Harare, April 13, 2016 – POLICE in Harare have barred a planned protest march by the opposition MDC-T to demand the return of the $15 billion worth of diamonds allegedly spirited away by the cartels linked to President Robert Mugabe’s regime.
The MDC-T was Tuesday forced to take legal action against Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri, the country’s police force and the Home Affairs Ministry in efforts to compel the state to respect the Constitution.
This is after police had earlier issued a vague letter advising the Morgan Tsvangirai-led party against going ahead with the anti-government demonstration.
“This office is however discouraging the issue of mass demonstrations as it interrupts the smooth flow of both human and vehicular traffic,” read a letter by Chief Superintendent Newbert Saunyama, the Officer Commanding Harare Central District.
“Also note that most police officers will be engaged in preparation for independence celebrations such that we do not have enough manpower to cover the demonstration.
“Any inconveniences caused are greatly regretted. Thank you in advance for your co-operation.”
The Harare demo was also intended at protesting against rising poverty levels, rampant corruption and economic mismanagement under President Robert Mugabe’s government.
The MDC-T, in an urgent High Court application filed late Tuesday by human rights lawyers Kennedy Masiye and Sharon Hofisi, argued that the ZRP had misdirected itself by discouraging the opposition party from proceeding with its protest.
The human rights lawyers contended that the MDC-T party had initially complied with an earlier police directive to postpone the date for its demonstration from last Thursday to this week to pave way for President Mugabe’s meeting with war veterans same day.
The lawyers asked the High Court to order Saunyama, Chihuri and Home Affairs Minister Ignatius Chombo not to interfere with the MDC-T’s protest.
The lawyers also want police stopped from interrupting, disturbing or discouraging the opposition party’s supporters from participating in the demonstration.
Opposition parties, civic and labour based groups are up in arms with the state for continuously blocking their lawful gatherings.
The state has often unleashed police to stop the rallies, which the state fears could turn riotous amid fears of a fully fledged revolt against President Mugabe.
With unemployment hovering above 80 percent, tensions have been rising in Zimbabwe as the troubled southern African country grapples with a recurrent political and economic crisis.